This uniformity is now given by the use of the " mixer " invented by Captain W.
On its way from the blast furnace to the converter or open hearth furnace the pig iron is often passed through a great reservoir called a " mixer," which acts also as an equalizer, to lessen the variation in composition of the cast iron, and as a purifier, removing part of the sulphur and silicon.
This " mixer " is a great reservoir into which successive lots of molten cast iron from all the blast-furnaces available are poured, forming a great molten mass of from 200 to 750 tons.
Should several furnaces simultaneously make iron too rich in silicon, this may be diluted by pouring into the mixer some low-silicon iron melted for this purpose in a cupola furnace.
In like manner, if the molten iron in the mixer contains manganese, this metal unites with the sulphur present, and the manganese sulphide, insoluble in the iron, slowly rises to the surface, and as it reaches the air, its sulphur oxidizes to sulphurous acid, which escapes.
Further, an important part of the silicon may be removed in the mixer by keeping it very hot and covering the metal with a rather basic slag.
It is true that the use of the " mixer " (§ 77) lessens these variations, and that there are convenient ways of mitigating their effects.
Looking at the duplex process in another way, the preliminary desilicidizing in the Bessemer converter should certainly be an advantage; but whether it is more profitable to give this treatment in the converter than in the mixer remains to be seen.